The Art Festival Newsletter
November/December, 2017 
presented by:

QuickPoll Report:

The 6th Art Festival Newsletter Survey Result
What Are Your Plans for 2018? 
How Have Your Sales Been So Far This Year?

Our sixth survey of 2017, part of our year-long exploration of the influences on artists' decisions to apply to festivals, once again provides a few surprises from our readers.

We asked our readers two questions: What are your overall plans for show participation next year and, so far in 2017, how have your sales been?

Results from both questions were revealing in their indications for the art festival industry as a whole. The artists reinforce the overall state of the art festival business...and the effect on artists' lives, livelihoods and t heir work.

The artists' answers to the question show a lack of stability or optimism about the industry: only 28.3% of artists plan to increase the number of shows they will participate in, while a nearly equal number, 28.8%, plan to decrease their exhibition schedule. Only four in ten artists plan on keeping the same number of shows on their schedule.
The implications of these numbers are important.  About two thirds of artists believe, according to their responses, that they need to either expand or curtail their show participation, indicating at least a sense of ongoing instability in the business: why change the number of shows you do if all is well, in terms of sales, with your current show plan?

When artists reduce the number of shows they do, the most prevalent reason is a diminished return at their events.  If sales are down, money can be a factor in the cost to participate and, a natural tendency, shows that are not productive in sales are seen as candidates for exclusion in future years.  

Yet, importantly, these shows may not be substituted for in the future; they develop a reputation for being slow selling.  Artists drop them from their plans, rarely to add them back in.  Further, in good selling times, few artists will change shows unless they are not accepted by jury.  When nearly two out of three artists plan to change their show participation, all is not well on the show circuit.  While reports of recovering sales have come in, they remain sporadic and clearly favor the high-end shows offering relatively expensive art to the public. 
Our second poll question focused on sales this year versus last in sales.  Here, a similar trend can be seen: artists seeing an uptick in sales totalled  29.5% of responses; those whose sales are down added up to 33.1%,  while sales remained the same for 37.3%. Taken together, sales were either down or the same for 70% of artists reporting. This indicates little, if any, industry sales growth, a factor in artists' plans for next year and beyond.

Taken together, the results state clearly that, even though some artists are enjoying increases in sales and planning on working hard in 2018 to sustain and grow those gains, the industry remains in a post-recession status of small incremental progress in sales and artist participation.  

Once again, your responses to our QuickPolls provide wonderful insight into what artists are thinking and how important these issues are for creating a workable art festival schedule.

During 2017, The Art Festival Newsletter is conducting a year-long set of surveys, six in all, devoted to discovering, collating and analyzing what influences hold sway when artists make application decisions. We reported on each QuickPoll over the year and will provide a detailed accounting of our findings at the Zapp Conference this February.
Last Chance to APPLY: Click logo for more information!

Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival
Ridgeland, MS
Application Closes 12/7

Historic Pendleton Spring Jubilee
Pendleton, SC
Application Closes 12/7

Leesburg Art Festival
Leesburg, FL
Application Closes 12/19

Snap to Grid
The Un-Juried Exhibit
Los Angles, CA
Application Closes 12/4

Click HERE to view more Calls to Artists:
Four Essential Tips to be a More Successful Artist

You might not think of it this way, but as an artist you are the owner of a small business. Accounting, inventory, and marketing are all part of the process of getting art out to clients. Finding time to build and maintain relationships is essential for success. Developing and managing a website and following through with your social media are time consuming, but necessary to extend your reach. Each of these tasks alone could keep you busy most days, and we haven't even mentioned the most important work: creating art.

Tip #1. Organize your Business
This strategy may be the least exciting to read about, but proper organization is critical to the long-term success of your art business. Some artists ignore this side of the business, as it is tedious and takes away from the creativity of the process.
I would encourage you to look at it a different way. Building a well-run, well-organized business around your art will allow you to avoid the disarray and frustration that surrounds many artists as their work sells and inventory changes. By being organized, you free up time and energy to focus on creating.
The most important place to start is i nventory tracking.    It can seem overwhelming to inventory a career's worth of art, so I recommend working backward. That way you'll start with the art that is freshest in your mind-and the work you need to have details on hand for potential buyers. Then you can take a trip down memory lane and archive your past work.
Inventorying all your art with photos of each piece and creating a numerical system that enables you send see and find the work with ease and saves valuable time.
You'll need to record the title, dimensions, inventory number, creation date, price, medium, and subject matter. To get started, check out this free, simple to use PDF - Artwork Inventory.

Tip #2: Organization
I encourage you to take a look at the past year and the number of pieces you produced and what sold. By setting goals for increased or more efficient production in the next year you will be more successful.
One tip that saves me a lot of time is Todoist is a free online task and project management web app to organize workflow. It gives you a lot of flexibility to move tasks around and prioritize them, allowing you to adapt to changes in your schedule or production needs. This can help prevent you from bouncing from project to project without completing the task.  Who doesn't love crossing things off their list.

Tip #3: Delegate
Perhaps the hardest thing is letting go control of any aspect of your business by delegating to someone else. As artists, we often have to figure out how to do everything on our own. After a while, it becomes a way of life and we feel pretty good about the fact that we can do so much by ourselves.
Ultimately, however, our self-reliance can become a hindrance to our long-term success. Yes, you can do your own bookkeeping and taxes, and yes, you can ship your own art, and yes, you can clean the bathroom, but is doing these things the best use of your limited time?
A week consists of 168 hours and every minute you spend on one task is a minute you can't spend on another.
You might say "I'm a starving artist, I can't hire anyone." Indeed, you may not be able to hire someone to work full-time for you, but if you can simply farm out some of the more basic parts of your business, you will find you have more time to create. Consider having a bookkeeper take over your day-to-day financial record keeping. Hire an art-student to come into your studio weekly to organize and clean the studio and catalog your artwork. Have your spouse or kid take over your website maintenance. Any time saved is more time for creativity.
Tip #4: Keep the Social in Social Media
Artists know relationships sell art. Social media is a great way for artists to market and promote their work, connect with buyers and ultimately make the sale.
Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? While sites like Facebook and Twitter are great for marketing your art business, social media is meant to be exactly that-social. People who follow you want to be wowed, not sold to. Therefore, when considering what to post, stick to the 80/20 rule: 80 percent entertaining, 20 percent promotional.
The way to accomplish this is through content marketing. By posting fun and engaging content about behind-the-scenes aspects of the art, you can actually help sell by creating goodwill towards your business. It opens the door to keep your patrons engaged and interested in you as an artist outside of shows.

For example, try creating a time-lapse video during the creation of your piece or make a video blog about your latest residency. Post a work-in-progress picture asking followers to stay tuned or give them a look inside your studio. Or, make posts as interactive as possible. Ask your audience questions like suggestions on what to name a piece.
Each social media channel is different, not only in the way you post but what type of audience may be following you. Instead of posting the exact same thing to all your channels, try to mix it up. If you post one work-in-progress picture to Instagram, add an entire photo album on Facebook of your process from start to finish. It may take more work, but it will be more enticing for fans to follow you on multiple social media accounts and increase your sales.

A successful art career depends on many factors and the above are just a few tips that are key to  building a successful career as an artist.  Art-Linx will have in-depth coverage of all these topics in 2018. 

I wish each of you  a Happy Holiday Season and New Year filled with health, happiness, and spectacular success.

Robin Markowitz
This Issue's Quote:
"An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision."
James Whistler
Spotlight on Shows:
This month I had the opportunity to talk with Erica Harrison, Festival Director of the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival and Associate Curator at Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE).
Well Past the Echo by Sue Wrbican
What is the relationship of the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival to the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE) ?
The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival i s GRACE's largest fundraising effort and among the top such events in the country, attracting 30,000 visitors and over 200 fine artists every year.  GRACE serves 80,000 people annually, providing Virginia, Maryland, and DC's diverse communities with abundant opportunities to experience and explore contemporary art through exhibitions, education programming, and the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival. 

The Virginia Commission for the Arts (VCA), the state arts agency, recently selected the GRACE to receive one of its prestigious "50 for 50 Arts Inspiration Awards" in the category of Bedrock Institutions for demonstrating a benefit to the economic health and/or tourism in the community, exhibiting artistic excellence, celebrating diversity, and showcasing Virginia as a cultural destination. We are one of only four visual arts institutions statewide to be honored.   

The GRACE gallery showcases local and regional artists alongside artists of national and international reputations. Recent exhibitions have created opportunities for partnerships with Reston Community Center, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, George Mason University, and the National Gallery of Art. Exhibition programming includes Creative Responses for which a local creative professional is invited to respond to the work on view and engage visitors in conversation. GRACE Art and Summer Camp deliver art enrichment experiences to over 20,000 students.

Can you take us back to the early years of the Festival and expand on its history? Who started it and what was their initial motivation for launching such an event?
Photo Credit 
Don Renner
In 1991, a year after the Reston Town Center opened, GRACE's Executive Director at the time, Judith Forst, invited 40 artists to set up shop in the newly developed outdoor shopping area to gain exposure and raise funds for GRACE. From the beginning, the Festival offered artists an opportunity to engage a new audience and for patrons to collect unique original art.  The Festival quickly grew into a marquee event on the community calendar, both for art collectors and volunteers, and with the continued development of Reston Town Center we are able to offer something new each year. 
For 2018, we will be adding Friday to the Festival! This expansion creates new opportunities for both the artists, providing them with more profitable selling hours, and the community of approximately 10,000 patrons who work at the upscale outdoor shopping destination of Reston Town Center by giving them access to view and purchase original artwork during working hours.  
Photo Credit 
Don Renner

How has the festival grown and changed since you've taken over?  The most significant change is happening this year with the addition of a third full day of Festival on Friday! This also means that we can move the Festival Party to Saturday and present the ten Artist Awards to the winners Saturday evening using this public platform. We expect these changes to have a real impact. 
2018  will be my 6th year as Festival Director but my 11th working to provide a well-managed venue for the artists so that they can do what they do best, make personal connections with enthusiastic art buyers and find new homes for their unique creations! What makes this event a stand-out is the community engagement. In essence what made the festival great in the 90s is still here today-enthusiasm and love for the visiting artists and community partners who support this event.  From its inception our goal has always been to create an arts-focused atmosphere where quality, originality, and craftsmanship of artwork is valued. Even if the musical guests, dance performances, temporary sculptures, and retail experiences vary from year to year we still provide the community with an amazing opportunity to collect original art. 
The festival was built on the foundation of supporting artists. What are some of the reasons artists keep returning to the festival?
Greater Reston Arts Center is committed to offering the highest quality fine art and craft to the public. We work hard to honor that by relentlessly focusing on sales and growing audience! It is because of our commitment to the artists, the high level of hospitality they receive from our volunteers, and the engagement with a community that appreciates the high quality of the art presented, that we have artists returning for decades. This is not a commercially run festival. By participating, our artists are supporting GRACE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts center. The Festival is our largest fundraiser and provides a huge percentage of our operations, so thank you to all of our artists for being a part of the #MakeArtHappen solution.  
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Show Producers:

What Can Art-Linx Do For You? 

*Increase applications to your festival
*Create a positive impression of your event
*Maintain ongoing "share of mind"
*Tell artists about important developments
*Expand your pool of loyal artists
*Create a focused, cost effective marketing program to potential exhibitors
*...and much more!

 At  Art-Linx, we focus on a single goal: connecting artists with art festivals and art festivals with artists. Hundreds of festivals have found our services highly effective ...and very cost efficient.

 Call or email us today for a no obligation consultation on your artist marketing needs!

  Click HERE for more information


10 Topics for your Art Blog. 

You are sitting at your table, defeated, just staring at a blank computer screen. You are trying to come up with new topics for your artist blog. Sound familiar?

To have a successful artist blog, focus on what your audience wants to learn. Writing for your fans, potential customers, and even other artists can help you illustrate your expertise and dedication as an artist and prompt people to buy your art.

Get customers excited to buy your art by telling them more about your artist story, as well as promoting the exciting happenings in your art career.


10 Blog Ideas 

*How do you find inspiration?


*What are you currently working on?


*Are you traveling for your art?


*What is your process like?


*Who are your favorite artists?


*How did you teach yourself?


*What was the most valuable thing you learned in art school?


*Who is your mentor and what did they teach you?


*Why do you create art?


*What is your favorite piece you've created?

We would love to hear what works best for your blog and any advise you have to give other artists.

Let us know what topics interest you and Art-Linx will work to include them in the next Art Festival Newsletter - Published January 10, 2018

Contact Robin at

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